If you are planning on studying in Australia, you may be able to bring your family members to live with you. Your parents (if you are under 18) or your partner and your children could be eligible to apply for a visa for the duration of your studies. However, there are a couple of restrictions on who can join you and how they should apply.
Read on for all the details on bringing family to Australia.
Can my family members come to Australia with me?
Even though you will be studying in a different country, you don’t have to leave your family behind. There are two different ways to bring your close family members to Australia: as part of your student visa (for your partner and children) or on a Student Guardian visa for your parents.
Partners and children
When you apply for a student visa, you can also apply to bring your partner (including same-sex partners) and/or your dependent children to Australia as part of the same process. The Department of Home Affairs recognises either a married relationship or a de facto relationship. A de facto relationship means:
- you are committed to a shared life excluding all others
- your relationship is genuine and continuing
- you live together or do not live separately and apart on a permanent basis
- you are not related by family
For your visa application, a dependent child is:
- your or your partner’s biological or adopted child from a current or previous relationship
- under 18 years of age
- not married, engaged or in a de facto relationship
- wholly or substantially reliant on you for their basic needs of food, clothing and shelter
If your child is over 18 and intends to continue studying, they can apply for their own student visa. Even if you do not plan to bring your family to Australia when you arrive, you should declare them in your student visa application because they can also apply later as part of a separate process.
Your partner will have the same working rights as those outlined on your student visa. So, if you can only work 40 hours per fortnight during semester, identical rules will apply to your partner.
If you are a student under 18 and hoping to bring your parent or guardian to Australia, that person may be eligible for a Student Guardian visa. Applicants for this visa must be the student’s parent, custodian or relative who is 21 years or older, and they must have enough money to support themselves, and you, during their stay and be able to provide you with accommodation, welfare and other support. Your parent or guardian cannot work in Australia and they must live with you, the student.
Family members hoping to join you in Australia will need to meet the Department of Home Affairs’ health and character requirements. The health requirement means that visa applicants cannot have any disease or condition that would be a significant healthcare and community service cost to Australia or place demands on services that limit the access of Australian citizens. The character requirement prohibits those who have a serious criminal record from entering Australia.
Before bringing your family to Australia, it is important to consider the financial commitment required. In order to secure your student visa, the Australian Department of Home Affairs has a set of financial requirements that you will need to meet. As of October 2019, the 12-month living costs are:
- For students or guardians – AU$21,041
- For partners coming with you – AU$7,362
- For a child coming with you – AU$3,152
Overseas Student Health Cover (OSHC)
Just like OSHC is a requirement of your student visa, your spouse and children (if they’re under 18) will need to sort out OSHC before arriving in Australia. The good news is you can easily cover them through your own OSHC policy by extending to a Dual or Multi-Family policy. This makes the process a lot more streamlined when applying for OSHC and using it in Australia. Contact your OSHC provider for more information.
Family life in Australia
If you bring your kids to Australia, they will need to attend school if they are over five years of age. The costs vary between states, but international student fees for children who attend government schools can be up to AU$18,000 per year plus administration fees and other costs. These school fees cover 40 weeks of school (four terms of ten weeks).
Check out the relevant state education body for more information.
Australian Capital Territory (ACT)
You can also find more information on the Study in Australia website.
Australia also has a private education system made up of religious and other independent schools that you could choose to send your children to. Private school fees are likely to be higher than public school fees.
If your kids are not yet old enough to go to school, you can place them in a government-approved childcare service. Childcare does incur fees, but if you’re receiving financial assistance as part of your studies (perhaps through a scholarship), you may get a childcare subsidy.
Support for families
Your university or college should offer information and resources for international students and their families when it comes to finding accommodation, childcare, schooling and employment for your partner. Some educational institutions also offer childcare and on-campus English classes for your family. Make sure to check your institution’s website or ask at student services if you or your family members need help settling in.